PURSUING SPEED THROUGH INNOVATION
25th April, 2013
INTRODUCING THE REVOLUTIONARY mxNEXT
Every now and then something quite spectacular comes along and if you are lucky – and in the right place – you get to be a part of history. Since I have felt from an early age that I was born under a lucky star it came as no surprise that I was chosen to be the test pilot for the brand new mxNext. Well, it did help that I am in charge of PR and marketing for the boat and the only one willing to don a wetsuit and venture out on a chilly early New England spring day. It was, frozen toes aside, an awesome experience.
The mxNext is in many ways a mini SpeedDream yet built under license as a separate business from mxSpeedDream. It is a development of the revolutionary mxRay, a boat that almost two decades ago changed the way single-handed skiffs were designed and sailed. The mxRay was the first boat to carry an asymmetrical spinnaker and with it’s addition came new levels of speed and performance. Back then the builder of the mxRay was master craftsman Mark LeBlanc who turned out hundreds of the colorful boats. Mark left the sailing business for a while to pursue a “real” career but the call of the water was too strong and a year ago he approached his old partner and designer Vlad Murnikov with a proposal. “Why don’t we bring back a newer version of the mxRay?” he asked. Murnikov, not one to live with one foot in the past, was not interested in a revamped design. The mxRay was, after all, built out of that archaic material; fiberglass. Nope, the future was carbon and the future was far more ambitious. Before the conversation was over the idea for mxNext had been sewn.
Marblehead harbor is usually wall to wall boats during the summer months but on this spring day, save for a few lobster boats, it was empty. A sloppy sea rolled in from the northeast, a reminder of some foul weather that had recently passed through. We launched the boat courtesy of the Pleon Yacht Club and well kitted out, I tentatively stepped on board. The boat was a real live version of some computer renderings I had been admiring for months and it felt as if I was stepping into one of my own computer programs. That was where the similarity ended. I pushed off the dock, sheeted on the mainsheet, and felt the immediate acceleration. The mxNext quite literally took off.
The boat is designed with a slick looking, aft-raked, wave-piercing bow that was slicing effortlessly through the chop, but it was the wings that give the design it’s distinct futuristic look. Primarily used as a hiking platform that allows the sailor to get weight as far outboard as possible, the wings also serve another purpose. No, not to make the boat fly even though it felt as if we were flying; they are there to provide additional stability as the buoyancy in the leeward wing resists heeling. Hall Spars had spun us a nice carbon mast and Doyle Sails provided a generous amount of sail area so there was no lack of power as I sailed out toward the mouth of the harbor.
Just as with the mxRay, the mxNext has an asymmetrical spinnaker that deploys out of a bag on the cockpit floor. In the short time it took to sail out of the harbor I felt that I was ready to give the spinnaker a go, but nervous at the same time that once the chute was up and filling the boat might literally take off. I bore away and felt the immediate acceleration, but once sailing downwind thing got a bit calmer and I hoisted the chute. It snapped full and the mxNext responded. The following five minutes were pure pleasure as we rocketed back into the harbor dodging mooring buoys and hanging on
I can safely say that the mxNext is a stunning boat to sail, but of course I am biased to we asked our friend Bill Lynn, head honcho at Atlantis Weathergear, to take the boat out for a spin. Here is what he had to say. “It was a lot of fun to sail. Fast, easy to handle, definitely athletic but once I got the spinnaker up it was like it was on rails going downwind. The mxNext really does have a future. This is an awesome boat.” This from one of the most successful small boat sailors in the US. Praise indeed.